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White House Restricts Virus Officials from Testifying Before Congress as Higher Death Projection Released; Intel Among Allies Contradicts Theory Virus Came from Lab; Venezuela: 2 Americans Captured in Failed Invasion Attempt. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired May 5, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: This virus has enormous capabilities of spreading like wildfire. We know that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The projected number of deaths forecast by early August in this country just nearly doubled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It isn't that the models changed anything. They're just looking at what is already happening.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House, they are pushing back on this internal administration projection that estimates as many as 3,000 deaths per day by the end of this month.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This virus, it doesn't have to outsmart us. We are choosing not to pick a path.
CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: We've got to let some of these folks get back to work, because if we don't, we're going to destroy the American way of life and these families.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, May 5, 6 a.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off, Erica Hill with me again this morning.
Great to see you.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, my friend.
BERMAN: So this morning it has never been more clear that America faces a stark question. How much death are we willing to accept? Listen to how the nation's top infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci, stated it overnight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: It's the balance of something that's a very difficult choice. Like how many deaths and how much suffering are you willing to accept to get back to what you want to be some form of normality sooner, rather than later?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: How many deaths, how much suffering are you willing to accept? That is the question Dr. Fauci asked.
And this morning, it really does seem that the answer for many Americans and many leaders is more. We are willing to accept more death to leave our houses and open some businesses.
Most people won't state it so clearly and honestly, but that is the decision that has been made, and those are the consequences that are coming, at least according to leading researchers. The most talked- about model on coronavirus impact is now doubling its predicted death toll to more than 134,000, and that's just by August. It projects the U.S. will reach 100,000 fatalities before Memorial Day.
HILL: Perhaps even more stunning, internal projections from the CDC which show as many as 3,000 American lives could be lost per day by the end of this month and more than a million new cases every week, all of this because America is easing restrictions.
So compare that to the current trend over the past 14 days, which you see here. It the shows the daily death rate actually trending down.
The president today is headed to Arizona, where he'll visit a company that manufactures protective masks. It is not clear whether he will wear one.
Let's begin our coverage this morning with CNN's Joe Johns, who is live at the White House.
Joe, good morning.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica.
This came just one day after the president reassessed the possible death toll, and then we get this projection that 134,000 Americans could die by August.
States continue to relax the social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines, raising the question John asked at the top: How much death are we willing to accept?
JOHNS (voice-over): A warning from Dr. Anthony Fauci as more states roll back social-distancing guidelines.
FAUCI: When you have a lot of virus activity, and you know that you're able to contain it to a certain degree by the mitigation, the physical separations, and you start to leap frog over some of these, you're inviting rebound.
JOHNS: Nearly 69,000 Americans have died from coronavirus so far, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University.
And this morning, one model often cited by the White House shows the human cost of reopening the country too soon could be extreme. It suggests 134,000 people could die of coronavirus by the first week of August.
Monday morning, it predicted just over half that many, about 72,000.
DR. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: There's clearly a huge relationship between how much people are out and about and how much transmission occurs. So no surprise, as people go back to being more active and interacting with each other, we're going to see increased transmission.
JOHNS: "The New York Times" on taping an obtaining an internal document showing Trump administration modeling projects there will be 200,000 new cases and 3,000 coronavirus-related deaths daily by early June, about 50 percent more than the current rate.
The White House pushing back against the report, writing in a statement, "This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed. The president's phased guidelines to open up America again are a scientific-driven approach that the top health and infectious disease experts in the federal government agreed with."
Despite President Trump's persistence.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some states I think, frankly, aren't going fast enough.
JOHNS: Some states resisting the push, like in New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo has yet to move forward with any reopening plans, despite the rate of infections slowing.
CUOMO: This is the number that haunts me every day. And this number is not declining anywhere nearly as fast as we would like to see it decline. Still, 226 New Yorkers who passed away.
JOHNS: Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, a battle brewing between Congress and the Trump administration after it blocked coronavirus task force members like Dr. Fauci from testifying in the House later this month. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisting those conversations are crucial for properly allocating resources.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The fact that they said we're not -- we're too busy being on TV to come to the Capitol is, well, business as usual for them. But it is not business that will be helpful to addressing this. We need to have the information -- we must insist on the truth.
JOHNS: Anyone from the task force would need the approval of the House or the White House chief of staff before they could testify.
Dr. Fauci, by the way, is expected to testify before a committee of the Republican-controlled Senate. Other officials subject to this rule include the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State.
John, back to you.
BERMAN: All right, Joe Johns for us at the White House.
Joe, thank you very much.
Joining us now is Dr. Manisha Juthani. She's an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine. Also with us this morning, CNN political analyst.
And the question that Dr. Anthony Fauci asked overnight, which is how much death, how much suffering are we willing to accept? And I do think the answer we are getting from more leaders and at least some Americans is more. And, David, I want you to listen to what former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told our Dana Bash. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: We sent our young men during World War II over to Europe, out to the Pacific knowing, knowing, that many of them would not come home alive. And we decided to make that sacrifice, because what we were standing up for was the American way of life.
In the very same way now, we have to stand up for the American way of life. What are those lives going to be worth if people can't go to work? If they can't support their families? If they're going to become homeless? You know, if they have to go to food banks every week to be able to feed their families? That's not sustainable either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: David, I wonder what you think of this framing, because the scientists are telling that more death is coming because of the choices we are making. And then you have leaders like Chris Christie -- and I'm not necessarily saying they're wrong -- but what they're saying is that's OK. We've made that choice.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I'm not sure I agree with the framing of World War II and -- and using that many troops to overwhelm the enemy.
But I think this tension what he's getting at is being felt not just by political leaders, but by everybody. And so, you know, what do we do if, you know, if you're a family that is in dire straits, and you're in desperate conditions where you need money to support your family? Are you going to take risks that the public health officials say are too high in their estimation when their focus is on preventing infection and preventing death?
You might do that because you have no alternative. And I think political leaders are facing this, as well, that there could be death from other sources. There could be other public health problems if you have the kind of widespread economic damage and destruction that we're seeing now and that we'll see more of.
The problem is that these gates that public health officials talk about are so clear that mitigation plays a certain role and that this virus is so contagious at a county-by-county level. Community spread is such a factor that leapfrogging over some of these steps when you don't have enough testing, you don't have the ability to contact trace, seems reckless.
HILL: To your point, David, that's what we were hearing. The CDC is -- this says there remains a large number of counties whose burden continues to grow.
Doctor, as we look at these numbers and this modeling, one of the things that stood out to me with this IHAM (ph) model that we look at so often was not just the way that the numbers were increasing in those projections, but also that they pointed out that the mobility increases and relaxing of social distances will not offset the testing, the contact tracing, and the warmer weather. Those are all important. But it just seemed to reinforce in such stark terms that you have to have all of these things working together.
DR. MANISHA JUTHANI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND EPIDEMIOLOGY, YALE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Yes, so absolutely. I think the problem with all of this is that we know that there are specific trends going on in specific neighborhoods in specific counties. And that is not the same everywhere in the country. Nor is the testing capacity, nor is the contact tracing.
And so, you know, I think a lot of what we're seeing in the numbers and the projected rebound is because there are areas of the country that have not hit their peak and are starting to relax some of the social distancing measures.
And we know that Americans have flattened this curve. Americans have changed their behavior and allowed for areas of the world and areas of the country to have the curve be flat and for the cases to be less.
But for the areas of the country that are loosening restrictions now, that is really what's driving the increased projected number of deaths to come.
BERMAN: I think we actually have some state charts here to show you where there is still an accelerated growth in the number of cases in some places. You look at Wisconsin, you look at Tennessee, you look at Texas, those curves are still going up.
And a lot of what's driving the downward trend in the United States is New York, frankly, which had the highest number of cases and is seeing a large decline, and it's bringing down the whole average of the country.
Dr. Juthani, what was interesting to me about the modeling, and I think we can put up the four criteria that they say is causing them to increase their forecast for the number of deaths, they say that the increased mobility has already happened. They're already seeing people move around much, much more, and that's one of the reasons why they've revised their models.
JUTHANI: Yes. I understand what you're saying, John, and I think that we know that states where people are potentially crossing lines, moving within different counties, going beyond, let's say, their local small community, that is going to drive changes in behavior.
And, you know, I understand the American people are suffering. People want to work. They don't want handouts. But at the same time, we need to be able to do this responsibly.
And using the measures that we know that can change these curves. And even if people do need to go to work in areas where they can work and they aren't necessarily just working from home, that mobility that you mentioned and bringing the virus, potentially, from one area of a state to another area of the state is something that can really change this entire trajectory.
So I would just ask Americans to think about their own behavior. Think about ways that they can contribute to this cause and actually continue to flatten the curve so that we don't have more unnecessary deaths.
BERMAN: All right. Dr. Juthani, thank you very much for being with us.
David, stick around. We've got more for you, sir, because President Trump is once again questioning the intelligence community on the origins of coronavirus. And some of our closest allies around the world are saying something much different. We have a live report, next.
BERMAN: All right. New intelligence from key U.S. allies indicates the coronavirus outbreak likely originated at a Wuhan market and not a lab. This is a far cry from what President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been saying over the last few days.
CNN's David Culver live in Shanghai with the details -- David.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, this is coming from a western diplomatic official who's familiar with intelligence from the Five Eyes intelligence sharing coalition. That includes the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
And essentially, this report suggests that the likely origin of this was natural, that it was from an animal to a human and that perhaps it was the market that was that original epicenter.
It really contradicts what President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been pushing as the Wuhan Institute of Virology being the lab that this leaked from. They say that's highly unlikely.
Now, state media here, they are seizing on this opportunity. They are going after Secretary of State Pompeo really hard, attacking him, calling him a liar. Today they even questioned his faith, his Christianity, saying essentially, that he is despicable with perspective to his own faith.
I want to read a little bit more as to what state media is saying. They say, "Pompeo aims to kill two birds with one stone by spewing falsehoods. First, he hopes to help Trump win re-election this November, which affects his interests. Framing China can reduce American anger toward Trump's poor response to the epidemic. Second, Pompeo hates socialist China and, in particular, cannot accept China's rise." That coming from "The Global Times."
The reason that is so important, Erica, is that is the narrative that is being pushed here, and it's really starting to resonate, to a point where Reuters has a report out suggesting that top leadership here has been briefed on anti-China sentiment that is growing globally.
Why does that matter? Well, here they're concerned that it could lead to something far more than a war of words. They say they're actually preparing for armed conflict if that is the reality of all this.
HILL: Armed conflict, wow. Talk about escalating, just as a thought.
HILL: David, appreciate it as always.
Back with us, CNN political analyst David Gregory. Talk about putting things in stark terms. What we just heard there from David Culver.
It does raise the question, though, as we're seeing this narrative pushed more by the administration. It certainly is a deflection from when and how things were handled in the very beginning here in the United States, David.
GREGORY: Yes, there's no question. I mean, the good politics part of this for the administration and a president who, of course, is facing re-election is to blame China as the source of the outbreak for its poor handling, for its poor communication, for its -- its lockdown of not just its citizens to combat the virus but on information coming out of there.
But there isn't evidence to suggest that it was anything other than natural, starting in the market. To hear the secretary of state make allusions to that evidence, we haven't seen it. And now we have an intelligence assessment that seems to conclude that all the evidence points to it being natural and not being manmade.
But I do think this larger point is important about the politics and about the sentiment back and forth. Don't forget: you know, there are hardliners who took a look at China, who see China trying to find its way in a -- as being supreme in the world as a force. And much more important than the United States, in that this virus and the economic impact has made it more vulnerable. That escalation is something that we're seeing on the world stage.
And I think Democrats and Republicans in this country see it as good politics to bash China over this, and, in general. The complication is that you also have an administration that, for the sake of the economy wants a better trade deal with the Chinese, which, given everything we're facing, could be all that more important.
BERMAN: There's a whole lot more in that.
Look, questioning China is justified and necessary, but when you're doing it in a way that raises question among your closest allies about whether you're using intelligence that's right creates a whole new series of problems.
And then, of course, you just raised how the president is addressing this directly versus China. He's raising questions about China, but he won't say a thing about President Xi. And I just don't know, David, how you separate U.S. policy with China with President Trump's relationship with President Xi.
GREGORY: Yes, I don't know how you do. I don't know how he does. I don't know that he's figured that out.
I mean, you know, H.R. McMaster former national security adviser has a new book coming out, excerpts of which were in "Atlantic" magazine this month, talking about a real hardliner view about what China is after that sets the United States and China on a real collision course.
And yet, you have the president who would love before the November election to pull off some kind of victory diplomatically to say we have a -- we have a trade deal with China that could certainly have a positive impact on the economy, as we're facing economic ruin here because of this virus.
HILL: And the concern, there, though, David, right, is if things go the opposite way. If there is no deal and, in fact, if the president is pushing for something more serious, and economists even saying be very careful how you proceed here with China, because what we're seeing now in terms of the economy could get far worse.
GREGORY: Right. And that's -- that's a reality that the president's going to have to face for the country. And, you know, it's unfortunate that we're also in an election year. He's going to have to face it politically.
But I think the deflection piece is also worth underlining. I mean, the president doesn't want the attention right now on how the administration handled this, whether the United States was late in responding, taking advantage of the fact that we had a couple of month leeway, lead time, based on what China was going through. It's much more effective to say, Look, the Chinese put a cap on this information and didn't share what was going on with the rest of the world.
BERMAN: Hey, David, what are you looking for today when President Trump hits the road for the first time in a long time? He's going on Arizona visit. This isn't explicitly a political visit, though it is worth noting Arizona is probably a swing state in the election.
GREGORY: Yes. I mean, I think he's putting a focus on what American companies can do to shore up the deficit in the production of masks and ventilators and all the PPE in response to this crisis. That's an important thing to say about what American industry can do when the government puts a focus on fighting this.
People will also be looking to see whether he wears a mask himself. I don't know. I mean, Vice President Pence didn't when he went to the CDC. The president and the vice president are getting tested on a weekly basis to know that they don't have the virus.
But I think that's a primary point, which is to underline what American industry can do when faced with this crisis as we talk about what we've been talking about since the top, which is how do we square the idea of reopening and the president traveling outside of Washington, which he hasn't done, with the magnitude of death that we're facing from the virus?
HILL: David Gregory, always good to see you. Thank you.
GREGORY: Thank you.
HILL: Breaking news. Venezuela's embattled president announcing two Americans have been captured in a failed plot overnight. Details next.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BERMAN: All right. We do have breaking news.
Two Americans have been captured in Venezuela. That nation's embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, says the men were part of a failed plot to invade the country. He claims their plan was to kill him.
CNN's Barbara Starr joins us now with these breaking details.
Barbara, what do we make of the veracity of Maduro's comments and the identity of these two men?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it is a mystery this morning. We've reached out to the administration -- the Trump administration overnight, haven't heard back.
But Nicolas Maduro appearing on television in Venezuela and showing -- there are a number of videos now appearing that appear to show two Americans amongst a group that has been captured. Maduro says they were out to conduct a coup against him.
Now, these Americans have been identified as Aaron Barry and Luke Denman. They are said to be former U.S. military, still to be confirmed. These videos including these men in a boat with their hands up show the -- also show U.S. passports, U.S. documentation. All of this still to be confirmed.
It is said that they worked for a Florida-based security company called Silvercorp run by another former U.S. Green Beret named Jordan Goudreau, according to "The Washington Post."
But, look, all of these details still to be sorted out.
Maduro has been the subject of multiple coup attempts. He believes the U.S., of course, very strongly out to get him. The U.S. opposed to his regime, clearly.
So what happens now? Is there any chance of getting these men back? We have seen over the years U.S. people -- U.S. citizens fight on behalf of other countries, on behalf of insurgent groups. Very difficult to get them back. The Trump administration, again, this morning still not officially commenting on this very mysterious story -- John, Erica.
BERMAN: All right. We are waiting for a response from the Trump administration as we speak. Barbara Starr, really interesting. Thanks for being with us.
BERMAN: So this morning, children are coming down with a rare symptom of coronavirus, sending their otherwise healthy immune systems into shock. So we're going to discuss what we're learning about all this, and the effect of coronavirus on kids in general next.